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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Guilin and Yanshuo Top Things to Do

Out of all the places in the world that I have traveled to, Guilin is by far the most beautiful place on earth. Guilin boasts magnificent natural beauty with it's karst mountains along the Li River. It is famous for the beautiful scenery and the best way to get immersed in the scenery is to take a river cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo.

Below I am sharing my top experiences from my trip to Guilin and Yangshuo.

1. Longsheng Rice Terrace

Longsheng (Dragon's Backbone) Terraced Rice Fields were given their name from the rice terraces that resemble a dragon's scales. The terraced rice fields were carved into the mountain over 600 years ago along the slope winding from the riverside up to the mountain top. There are two options to get to the top of the mountain, either by cable car or hike up. Being short on time, I opted to take the cable car ride up, which took about 10 min to reach the top. At the top of the mountain there are many shops selling souvenirs (almost all shops sell the same thing at similar prices). There are also a few restaurants to grab a bite to eat while enjoying some amazing views. Since I was visiting in late December, the terraces did not have rice growing. In early June, water is pumped into the rice paddies and young plants are transferred to the main terraces. 

2. Huangluo Long Hair Village

The ancient Chinese village of Huangluo is a nicknamed the "Long Hair Village", since the Yao women are well known for their long shiny hair. Most women in this area have their hair over 4.5 feet long and only cut their hair once in a lifetime at age 18. The Yao women believe that long hair symbolizes prosperity, longevity, wealth and good fortune. Their secret to shiny gray-less hair is to wash their hair once a week with rice water. 

3. Two River Four Lake Boat Ride

Just as the name suggests, Two River Four Lakes consists of two rivers and fours lakes all connecting to form a picturesque waterway in the center of Guilin. The two rivers are the Li and Taoua Rivers and the four lakes are the Rong, Shan, Gui, and Mulong. We took a boat cruise during the evening and the scenery is more magical at night with all the colorful lights and lit up lanterns.

4. Li River Boat Tour

The best way to experience the natural beauty of the mountains is to take a boat cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo down the Li River. The ride is about 350 Yuan (approximately $50 USD) which includes a meal and is about 4 hours long. While a 4 hour ride may seem daunting at first, the views were so breathtaking, I did not notice the time pass so quickly. Each boat on the Guilin river cruise has viewing decks on the roof to get a 360 view of the natural surrounding. On the boat cruise you can also get a view that is on the 20 Yuan bill.

(The 20 Yuan view)

5. Silver Cave

The Silver Cave is the most magnificent cave I have ever seen with its clever use of colorful lighting to illuminate the stalactites and stalagmites. For thousands of years, water containing lime kept slowly dripping in the cave created this natural spectacle.  The total length of the cave is about 2km and the temperature inside is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

6. The Impression of Liu Sanjie

This show is the worlds largest natural theater which utilizes the Li River as a stage and the surrounding misty karst peaks serve as the backdrop. The show is choreographed by Zhang Yimou, the mastermind behind the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony.

7. West Street

West Street, also called Foreigners' Street, is filled with many local shops selling a variety of local crafts, antiques and souvenirs.  There are also many street food stalls, cafes and restaurants to choose from to grab a bite to eat.  English is widely spoken due to the large amount of tourists Yangshuo gets.

8. Cycling Tour

Yangshuo has some of the most breathtaking scenery and biking is the best way to enjoy it and get a close look of rural China. My boyfriend and I rented bikes from our hotel (the rental was included with our stay) and spent the entire day riding through the mountains of Yangshuo. We ventured through the surrounding villages and rode along the Yulong River to explore what this amazing landscape has to offer. 

9. Elephant Trunk Hill

Elephant Trunk Hill is on the west bank of the Li River and is one of the symbols of Guilin. This hill gets its name from the fact that it looks a bit like an elephant drinking water from the river.

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